Brentford Head Coach Dean Smith felt his side were the only ones trying to win the game today as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Play-Off chasing Middlesbrough at Griffin Park. Adama Traore fired Boro into a 22nd minute lead but The Bees were level before the break as Lewis Macleod grabbed his first Brentford goal on his first start of the season. After the break, it was Smith’s side who created the better chances but couldn’t find a way to beat Darren Randolph in the visitor’s goal. The cause wasn’t helped by a late Romaine Sawyers’ sending off as Dean was left to reflect on two points that got away.
Speaking to iFollow Brentford after the game, Dean said: “I was a little disappointed with the point to be honest as I thought we were the team pushing forward trying to get the second goal. We were in control of the game from early on and I was pleased with our performance. We started really well but then they pulled a goal out of nothing. Our response to that was really good. We got a deserved equaliser through Lewis Macleod and in the second-half we tried to go and win the game. We were the dominant force and were unfortunate in the end. In the position that we are in, we have to win games. We threw players on who we believe could get it done. Overall, it was a really good team performance today and the only thing missing was another goal.”
Dean made four changes for this afternoon’s match which concluded a hectic four game run of fixtures. One of those changes saw Lewis Macleod come in for his first league start since October 2016. And The Bees Head Coach was rewarded with a fine performance from the 23-year-old Scot who has endured a torrid time with injuries since joining the club.
“With four games in 12 days the squad was going to be stretched but Lewis Macleod has been impressive in training and deserved his opportunity,” revealed Dean. “His chances have been limited because of the quality of players we have in midfield but I had no doubts about starting him. He has certainly taken his chance with both hands today. Everybody is pleased for him. He’s had a long, hard road to recovery but he’s been back for a while now, knocking on the door. He’s deserved that chance today and he’s taken it.”
Today’s point means The Bees stay eight points off the Play-Offs, now with eight games remaining. Dean concedes that gate-crashing the top six might be a long shot but said he saw enough in today’s performance to suggest his team will give it a good go.
“At the moment it is a challenge to get into those top six places,” admitted Dean. “I put the challenge to the players today, with nine games to go, and I thought that they rose to that challenge. It’s eight games now. It is going to be very tough but if they keep going and performing like that then we will give ourselves a real chance.”